21 Common Trail Running Mistakes You Should Avoid

When talking about trail running, you might find it frightening, however, in reality, it’s extremely exciting. Let’s begin your wonderful day by changing your morning routine. These simple tips will definitely help you to replace your familiar road with the very exciting trails with ease.

I’m not always a seasoned trail runner, so I often make some silly mistakes. Through this article, I hope that you will avoid the mistakes that I used to make in order to save your time and keep you safe.

Below are some of the most popular mistakes that beginner trail runners need to avoid. However, before you read the mistakes I’m going to talk, make sure you don’t get injured before you get started and remember to start out on the right foot.

1. The horrible toos

The most popular mistake that every beginner trail runner often makes is: too soon, too fast, too much.

In reality, what you can do when starting out is to rein it in. How can you do that? Let’s vary your morning routine by building a constant foundation of aerobic, easy and short miles before you begin to add the bricks of pushing your training uphill, distance or pace.

It’s better to let your own body modify to what you’re going to do with the high-impact sport. Moreover, spend more your days off on playing the long games.

2. Keep track

In general, the accepted rule is aimed to increase mileage by 10% a week. Everyone often thinks this is really boring made-up rule, but there’s actually logic behind it. Trail running is really a funny activities. In the beginning, you might not realize what fatigue and niggles you are setting for yourself. However, after about 3-4 weeks, you will easily realize the big difference which helps your body tip over a breaking point.

A very useful tip for you to get into is to add time, pace and other details like how you’ll feel if you want to do that as well as to keep an easy log of your mileage in a small notebook. Nevertheless, keeping it simple must be taken into consideration in order to support yourself to keep it up to date.

3. Make it more attractive

Some people I know got into a wrong habit when running. They always run the same loop at the same pace, which won’t obviously increase your fitness, and even makes you feel bored and want to give up. Instead, if you want to improve your health and be more motivated, you should break your bad habit by mixing up your speed and pace.

When you’re able to set up a solid basis, let’s try doing something new such as: hill-work session or one short speed, one short tempo run (usually difficult), and a longer but easy run with your friends in your free time, at a pace where you can feel comfortable.

Furthermore, let’s participate in a trail running club where most trail runners are fun-loving, generous and amazed people. They will inspire you a lot and help you stay motivated.

4. Listen to what your body wants, not your GPS

Don’t forget that trail running obviously takes much longer than road training because the trail is loose, rocky, slippery, hilly and technical. Therefore, I recommend that just keep your eye on them, but not your watch. Moreover, you just need monitor your pace sometimes on a GPS if you don’t want to become a machine.

Additionally, perceived exertion-for example: how your own body feels- is much more crucial than pace. When exercising, if you start to feel particularly fatigued, painful or arched, it’s best to listen to what your body is telling you and ease up.

Sometimes, it might be difficult to know when you are just feeling lazy in the beginning and when your body really need to take a rest. In reality, this always occurs during your workout, so be careful when you’re just at the start.

5. “In reality, I’m an ultra-marathoner, and kind of a big deal…”

Actually, there is a common trend that trail runners tend to run a long way very slowly, which might be very weird. However, various lengths of runs will definitely make you feel funny and sometimes challenged for several reasons.

As for me, my favorite distance I love to run is half-marathon. When I run for this distance, it’s long enough for me to feel like a good outing, and I find it easy to run all the way round, which it’s very rare for people to do on an ultramarathon – it often requires us to walk a lot, especially on mountainous terrain. However, starting to exercise as a marathon runner in the beginning might not be the best idea. Instead, take part in a train running event can be unbelievably motivating. Thus, it’s better to start low and expand to the longer distances.

6. Rein it in

The very popular mistake that beginner trail runners face is overstriding, which enables you to land heel first. In fact, a longer stride really doesn’t help you to have a faster pace, however, you might get injured and even be forced to take a rest.

Also, it doesn’t give you any improvement or efficiency because you’re efficiently braking with each foot strike, particularly when you run down like this from hills.

Its target is to land on your mid- to forefoot and to run with short quick steps. Moreover, it’s compulsory to remember the help of bridleways, they are really your helpful friends in the early days. This is really true because they’re often more even than footpaths as well as wider with less covert trip hazards.

7. Rest

Remember that in the beginning, there’s no need to run regularly. You should rest as many days as you run when you first start to run. As a result, your muscles can repair and build themselves during the time you rest.

8. Don’t pay attention to a lot of advice

Actually, running is a very easy and funny activity. Thus, don’t focus on what know-it-alls tell you. Yawn. It’s best for you to take it easy and enjoy it.

9. Maps Matter

As for many people, running might be the best excuse to escape from technology. In fact, all you need is just a pair of shoes, and then you can spend your exercise disconnecting from computers and phones.

However, changing from road running to trail running can become a risk for you, especially when you’ve never run on trails before. Apps, in fact, provide you with a wonderful way to keep track of how to get back to the parking lot in a pinch, where you’re going to, and where you are. Moreover, you can also use your exercise as an escape, but bringing with your phone can offer a lifesaving resource.

10. Overestimate fuel

There is a fact that when you’re out of the trail, you often spend more time outside than you planned as well as head out away from civilization, so it’s very important to AWAYLS bring some kind of hydration and nutrition. It’s obvious that you cannot duck in to the 7/11or pass by a nearby water fountain, always be prepared and be like a boy scout.

Remember to bring jerky or fruit, a granola bar, an electrolyte drink and especially water. (I’m a loyal fan of my marathon CamelBak which has a good amount of water and big pockets as well).

Truthfully, dehydration can make a short, well-travelled route like a marathon runner and can completely slow you down. So, keeping hydrated will prevent you from bonking, and lead to the run fun! Also, don’t forget to drink a great amount of H2O because it will make you mentally sharp while running a trails.

 11. A picky pair of shoes

There aren’t too many differences between road shoes and trail shoes, however, if you’re planning on trails running regularly, choosing good trail shoes is very important. There’re hundreds of various kinds of trail and running shoes, but it’s very rare to find out a silver bullet. As you may know, your own body is the best part, therefore, focus on what works for you. Indeed, lighter materials, more rigid soles, and knobbier tread are very useful to prevent you from tripping or slipping on trails.

 12. Run with the necessity

If you tend to work out for about two hours in dry and hot weather, remember to carry a lot of water. Don’t believe in streams. I myself have suffered H.pylori and Giardia for the past three years from drinking from streams.

Moreover, don’t forget to bring necessary medication in case something happens. I’m allergic to stings, thus, I always bring an epi-kit in my Camelbak.

13. Layer like a boss

When you’re planning for trail runs, it’s vital to remember that you’ll be father away from the shelter than on an easy jog round your neighborhood. Also, keep in mind that weather can change anytime, especially bad weather. So prepare something necessary by layering your clothing with some pieces that can be remove or even added. (Another proper excuse to bring that hydration pack!).

A wind breaker or rain coat are really useful if you’re achieving remarkable elevation.

Careful preparation and the combination with the elements will help you move forward instead of having to turn around at the trailhead.

 14. Be present

While you slip into zen, the metal space of runs might become wonderful, so it’s crucial to be present trail running. Even the most well-maintained trails can have undesirable obstacles, and you’ll definitely be careful.

15. Stop, drop, and appreciate

One of the most wonderful benefits that trail running gives us is that it helps us to explore new lands. So, remember to enjoy your surroundings and take a breather every now and again!

Actually, nothing is more enjoyable or as quiet as the breeze through the trees, or overlooking the grasses in the new areas. If you are fortunate enough, you can even sneak a peek of some domestic critters.

 16. Find me note

Like many other outdoor activities, it’s a great idea to let your family members or friends know where you’re going to run. This’s really necessary because sometimes, trails can lead you to somewhere like remote places. So, in case of an emergency, you need to tell someone about where you’re going to go, and what time you’ll be back home.

Especially, when you try running on new trails, never go alone!

17. It’s a new pace

It might be very difficult to distinguish between road running and trail running because they’re very similar. However, in terms of comparing your minute per mile time between the two is akin to comparing apples with oranges.

Many obstacles are always present on the trail, and even the transformation in the grade will make holding a constant pace challenging, if not impossible.

Instead of using minutes/mile to compare, it’s better to use your conceived endeavor to measure how hard you’re working. If you’re working out on a regular basis, head out on trails for an amount of time, and try to push yourself to run longer miles in the same amount of time when you work out again.

You can even put yourself into challenges with no need to try to stick with unrealistic minute per mile goals.

In addition, if your trail pace is much slower than your road pace, don’t give up. It means that you have to put a lot of efforts when running on trail.

18. Wildlife (not your neighbor dog)

When you work out on trails runs, be fully aware that it’s possible that you might go into someone’s home. It’s true that most animals are scared of humans, especially strangers. When you run on trails at the dusk/dawn hours, be careful because predators might be out and about. So, it’s necessary to educate yourself with real situations, and get accustomed with all kinds of animals that you may encounter on trails.

19. Look the hours

When you start working out on an out-and-back trail run, it’s very essential to keep your eyes on the time. While you’re reaching an end point or a peak, don’t forget that you’ll always have to remember the way back to your car.

20. Determine where you’re going

A lot of people run on trails without knowing where they’re going or what is waiting for them on the trail. Because the trails extend into the backcountry rapidly, it’s necessary to tell your family members or friends about where you’re going and when you’re going to come back.

On the way you run, there are plenty of obstacles such as terrain, steep, cliffs, bears, etc. that you may have to face. So, pay attention to them to avoid on time. Additionally, it’s a good idea to run with a buddy (or two, or three).

21. Some trails are difficult, some not so much

There are different kinds of trails that are suitable for different abilities. However, there is a common feature among them, which helps you away from the mess of busy life as well as take you to a peaceful place where you can re-energize and take it all in.


Trail running is a fun way to fall back in love with running, especially if your routine has become too routine. You’ll get outside, discover the natural beauty of your area, and enjoy tackling a new sport.

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